2015: A Year In Review

I can't believe that we are nearing the end of 2015! Though I am looking forward to the year 2016, filled with so much opportunity, I am a bit sad to say goodbye to this year. In the past, I have written a questionnaire response (2013) and a month-by-month throwback (2014) but this year, it has been decided to write something similar to a q&a portion, but with much deeper responses.

1) What qualities helped you the most during this year?

There were three prominent qualities that stood out this year: the first two are idea making (which has helped me through a lot of situations and has helped make life so much more interesting) and optimism, which I will attempt to explain later.

The third quality, as stated in the compliment card above, was leadership-- which freaked me out. So many people say that I tend to be a leader; it's not usually that I'm the first choice for the role, but rather I step up when people need help or when the situation calls for it. Plus, I lead apparently with a smile. Goodness, this brings back so many memories of volleyball and stage combat where I smile like the smiley face stickers given out to younger kids in sports.

2) In this year, what achievements have you accomplished?

I'm extremely proud of some of the things that I accomplished this year, which makes me feel somewhat like a Roaring 20s female modern, taking charge of her destiny! A lot of the things that I accomplished this year wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been for working things out.

Second place at the district book competition; next year, the school team WILL make it to the state championships, and I will see to that. It makes me sound a bit like a nerd, but the book competition is an important event that has been integrated within my life, it's hard to imagine life without it.

I interned for Summit Media in the Philippines (under the careful guidance of Total Girl Philippines) and it has opened up my eyes to the world of magazine publication! The last issue which I helped contribute, the December issue, is out right now! Sadly I won't get ahold of the magazine copies until a relative of mine goes back to the Philippines.

Hehe, before these Shopkins had their photos taken, I messed around with them for two hours. Two.
You could totally tell that I loved messing around with the toys during my photoshoot duty.

I love this! The sand which doesn't stick to your hand!

I went on a youth retreat! I haven't been on one since a couple of years ago-- I already miss going fishing with Ziplock baggies and belting out Amazing Grace in the showers with a friend at midnight, a bit before our cabin curfew.

The dock where a majority of the people on the retreat spent their time capturing fishes.

Seriously, another photo of Thumper the Bunny. I CAN'T GET ENOUGH LOVE FROM THIS BUNNY.

I was in two theatre shows-- whoop whoop! I didn't get any leads (a lot came down to scheduling and height) but that's all right-- the shows were tons of fun.

The stage we performed on was huge! It was a part of a building where the national tours for shows like The Lion King come about.

Missing the warmth of the stage lights.

You know you're a theatre kid when you gain attachment to your props by closing night... and you can't let them go.

I actually got out more and visited a lot of my friends' houses, which was great because until this year, I wasn't allowed to go out much-- Nerf fights, binge watching marathons, Swedish fish sessions and the potential yurt building project were all so much fun!

This is the view of a town I saw while up on the houses on a mountain... all blurried. Oops. ^.^

Lastly, I entered into the Scholastics' Art & Writing Awards competition. Ever since I received a free national catalog from them and heard about the awards via Christina, I've been wanting to enter. Finally, that wish became a reality, and I'm extremely proud of the piece I submitted-- shout outs to Rose, Mackenzie, Anna and Anna, who were all willing to critique despite the holiday schedules.

3) Do you have any regrets of things you did not accomplish?

My three main regrets is one, my grades (which I have stated in one of my previous posts, isn't bad but I want to try to make things better for the upcoming semester) and two, not keeping in touch with several friends. There are friends that I want to meet up with but because they live in an area several miles out of the other side of town getting along together is tough. I'm talking to them about meeting up next year. My third one is the fact that I did not go through the entire year commenting on blogs every day, but it's a minor thing.

4) Goals for next year?

Academic: Maintain A's and get at least 5 A's and one B. I've been setting this goal to be "straight A's" for a year but it hasn't been working. Perhaps it is better if, for the time being, I try to bite into the challenge slowly rather than failing to chow down everything. Also, I need to take a good look at what universities I want to apply for and what I want to major in.

Writing: Finish the first draft of my NYC novel, and flesh out my characters Sam and Christina for a fantasy series as well as fix any plot holes and fabricating major plot lines together seamlessly. I can't give up on this series idea since it gives me chills and its story is so vivid to not share (not writing the series would be super selfish, if it makes any sense), but it's not coming together properly. Darn the loopholes my ten-year-old self failed to see! 

Social wise: Strengthen my relationships with others, and keep in touch with good friends. Go to youth group at least once a month. Asking to have eye contact with people for next year may be too much...

Artistic: Improve theatre and photography skills. Writing is in it's own category, thus the reason why I didn't put it in here.

5) What things, in store, are you looking forward to?

Things I'm Looking Forward To in 2016 are editing my Susan Pevensie novel (a post about her should be coming up soon), the Rio Olympics-- my television attachment when this airs, whether it may be the Summer or Winter Games, is extremely unhealthy-- and traveling more along the southern US states! I also may be revisiting a place which I have blogged about before, and I'm stoked about going back!

That's all I have for you today! Before I go, I have one last request: tell me what sort of thought topics you would like to see me blog about-- throughout this year I have written posts about why it's okay to cry to the troubles of blogging-- if there something specific you'd like me to write about, let me know!

I hope that you all have a happy New Year!

Christmas 2015

Hi! How did your Christmas go? December has snuck up on me from the back and before I knew it, we're near the near the end of the month.

As usual, my family went out on our traditional tradition of Simbang Gabi, which the short summary of that is this: a nine day Filipino church celebration involving evening mass and food. Sadly, I had to miss four days because the first two days coincided with my school's finals, which I had to study for, the third day missed was due to my heart surgery (my heart is back to normal), while on the final day I had a massive headache. 

I've usually had good memories associated with this event-- when I was a kid, I was apart of a group of youngsters who would sneak out of mass early in order to be one of the first in line for food. Because the mass was at a different church every single day, we would often have fun exploring it area, playing hide and seek until the game turned into a rescue mission to save someone who got stuck inside of a storage closet.

On Christmas Eve, I spent most of the day reading and videochatting with some good friends of mine. The evening of that day was spent at a church mass, followed by going to a party with my relatives.

I love the holiday season-- with all its hustle, singing, and joy, but life has definitely caught up to the point where I had to think about other things than celebrating Christmas in its entirety.

Before I end this post, I have two things I'd like to ask for. One is this: if anyone is a Narnia fan, comment below; I have a Narnia-related collaborative post I'd like to talk about, and I'd like to tie it in with Christianity. So if anyone is interested, please comment below!

The second request is, could you all ask me simple questions like, "What is your favorite color? Favorite food? A weird quirk about you?" I'm hoping on creating a 20 questions video but these have to be simple questions, ones that can be answered via video and one that does not show my face or voice. I'm still not allowed to show anything about my identity.

I hope you all are having a lovely week!

Grades & Their False Facade On Set Futures

Happy holidays, everyone! Can’t you all finally believe that Christmas is here? Originally I was planning on writing a post an event that recently finished itself up, but because  most of the photos consisted of people, whose privacy I wish to respect, I decided not to post about that. Instead, I am going to be posting something that has constantly been on my mind. 
“Did you know that for pretty much the entire history of the human species, the average life span was less than thirty years? You could count on ten years or so of real adulthood, right? There was no planning for retirement, there was no planning for a career. There was no planning. No time for planning. No time for a future. But then the life spans started getting longer, and people started having more and more future. And now life has become the future. Every moment of your life is lived for the future--you go to high school so you can go to college so you can get a good job so you can get a nice house so you can afford to send your kids to college so they can get a good job so they can get a nice house so they can afford to send their kids to college.” -- Paper Towns, John Green
Did you pay attention to the college part of this quote? Good. 

Finals. Exams. Whatever they may be called to you, they’re that one thing that often stands between an individual and Christmas break, in December. Perhaps, like you, the course of these particular days bring scares. Today, I sat at my desk, my pencil at hand, with a piece of gum in my mouth and a water bottle to drink down in case I get dehydrated… staring at my test for five minutes straight because of the overwhelming rush of nervousness which rushes through me. The only break that I got was during the lunch hour, where the book competition coach had to go stop several people making out in the library.

My Pre-Calculus and Chemistry finals settled my grades, laying along the high B range. Math and science aren’t my forte; they are the two classes that have taken me the most time to learn how to be successful in. In middle school, it wasn’t until my eighth-grade year that I finally was able to get both A’s in those classes—but then the science classes were of the high school prep caliber while the math classes were actual high school courses, where I, the youngest, was placed. 

Every year, the feeling of disappointment that comes from my parents—and myself—rush in. “Oh, you could have done better if you haven’t spent your time on writing, musical theatre, the book competition, and blogging… We’ll see how things are and then make you drop some of your activities, okay?”

Grades are important, and I get that. Grades affect one’s GPA which colleges tend to analyze during the application process—and I want to get into one of the top universities on the East Coast (one of the Ivy League schools or perhaps MIT, though they do require a strong math and science foundation). The majority of my out-of-school life lies within what I do with my school life. I complete my homework and study for two and a half hours after I get home in complete seclusion, disregarding all other practical matters I need to tend to, such as cleaning my lunch container or organizing the clothes in my closest which had fallen into a pile on my floor.

There are times when I feel like I can’t talk to anybody normally unless it’s about the subject of school. Before, I would talk to friends about the latest novel idea that spurred in the moment or the ways to fix pens (an unusual hobby of mine I find myself doing at times). Now, my conversations are about what we were doing in class, and at the end of the day, when reflecting, I sometimes feel rather empty because school is the only thing I can talk about now while my knowledge of everything non-school related is empty.

There are some days in school where I feel as if I’m on top of things—and other days where I feel as if I am flailing to stay afloat along the drenches of ocean water. I can’t go through the day without thinking, “Oh my goodness, this grade is terrible and it’s going to define me once I submit my college application, and then because of that tiny percentage I am NOT going to go to a good college—“

Stop. Okay, so perhaps tiny percentages do count, but let me get back to the point.

Think about this: colleges and university nowadays under through a “holistic” process, where they go through more than just your grades—they look at SAT/ACT scores, your extracurricular activities. In short, they want to get to know the real you: your likes, dislikes, interests, points where you thrive and areas you struggle in. Isn’t that partially why universities ask for teacher recommendation letters, a college essay, and perhaps an interview?

You are more than just your grades. Once your grades end up the way they are, they stay that way, but your future isn’t set just because of them. Your grades can help build or break you, but they do not define you—how you bounce back does.

Graduation isn’t that far away from me as it was when I first started this blog, and I am striving to work the many aspects that post-secondary educational institutes looks for. In my free time, I try to submerge in artistic areas—they are areas that do interest me. When I’m not performing or writing, I’m constantly thinking about how things work and how they could be improved, like how to readjust my crooked closest door and where the water from washing machines go after their rinsing cycle.

I’m not sure how college me would react when they see this. Maybe by then I would be a published author, blowing off the dust of this blog post and smirking—perhaps I did get into an Ivy League school or MIT (which would be amazing, because it is the hardest school to get into right now and the writing classes there fascinate me). Or maybe colleges are looking through my blog because they are trying to search me up on the internet and this old doodad came up. Hello, from the past. But hopefully, whatever university I get accepted into, they’ll accept me for who I am fully, too.

My Canon Rebel T5i

 My friend during rehearsal loves to try doing my hair. I felt so much like a princess with this hairdo.

 All of my brothers' textbooks for school.

Hi, everyone! I have a big announcement to make: I love my Canon Rebel T5i!

Photography has always been one of my favorite hobbies. Owning a DSLR has always been a dream of mine, but it was always only considered under speculation for two reasons: one, the costly price, and two, my parents’ agreement to allow me to own one. It wasn’t until last year did the thought start to solidify into a reality. My parents and I made a deal: if I could be responsible and save up half of the money for my camera, then they would fund for the other half and allow me to purchase one! Finally, after many months of thinking, saving, and researching, the dream finally came true.

I’ve been spending hours reading the manual! I want to fully unlock the potential of my new camera! I can’t wait to capture more pictures, capturing memories! :)